Former FBI Director Jim Comey’s leaks to the press, the bias in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the Strzok-Page texts, anti-Trump “secret societies” within intelligence agencies, and the damning Nunes memo. Taken together, it’s tough to escape the conclusion that the “deep state” is real and it doesn’t like President Trump.
The president apparently poses enough a threat that an all-star lineup of senior intelligence agency directors, from John Brennan (CIA), Andrew McCabe (FBI), Jim Comey (FBI), James Clapper (DNI), and Michael Hayden (NSA and CIA), have all exploited intelligence assets and relationships in a concerted effort to undermine the Trump Administration.
Most of them certainly seem to be opposed to Trump and to enjoy being in the opposition. Consider Comey’s newfound status as a progressive darling in the “fight for justice.”
But who comprises the rank and file of the deep state, and why are they so opposed to Trump? Historian and columnist Paul Gottfried might have some answers, having lived among “them” in the Beltway bog, which he charmingly describes as “full of smug, striving liberals” in the 1980s. It seems little has changed since then, except that the number of smug strivers has increased along with housing prices in Northern Virginia and the tonier parts of Maryland.
“I work for our government,” was the introduction de rigueur of Gottfried’s furtive neighbors, spooky suits entrenched in and aligned with the deep state. “Those who uttered this were stiff and arrogant and almost always pronounced themselves for the ‘Left,’ or for whatever was fashionably leftist at the time,” Gottfried writes. Sure, there were Reaganites among them, excused as “amiable hypocrites” by Gottfried, for their purporting that they had embedded themselves with big government in order to shrink it.
“But their leftist counterparts,” writes Gottfried, “were far more unsettling.” They were “out of touch with most Americans but imagined they understood what was best for all of us.”
“Just as our Deplorables rightly suspect,” Gottfried continues, “these ‘public servants’ loathed gun owners, religious Christians, and the residents of fly-over country. Their fellow-citizen were there to be ‘regulated,’ and these experts hoped to make all economic transactions rational and humane.”
All this cosmopolitan preening from our off-the-books betters happened in spite of the fact that while they preached progressive precepts, they “racially and socially segregated themselves” from their neighbors. But that “did not prevent them from loudly lamenting the low-class white bigots, whom they intended to re-educate.” The nature of the deep state is a lot less esoteric when you understand who fills its ranks—Yalies like Anderson Cooper who stay on with the CIA after their summer internships.
“What I concluded from these encounters and from my sojourn in the Washington suburbs is that the deep state has true loyalists,” Gottfried writes.
They’re afraid Trump might mean business about “draining the swamp,” and they’re understandably irritated that he rules by executive order and through cabinet secretaries who are not in harmony with the permanent government. Because of their network of support, extending to the major media, leftist and neoconservative publicists, and major educational institutions, the deep state holds a very good hand.
Still, there are those unconvinced of an effort by a number of our three-letter agencies to undermine the president. In 1963, when FBI Chief William Sullivan wrote that the Bureau “must mark [Martin Luther King Jr.] now, if we have not done so before, as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro and national security,” intelligence agencies then posed a threat to freedom. When the CIA wiretapped the phones of journalists and stalked their every move, intelligence agencies then posed a threat to democracy.
But when those agencies, which have remained consistent in their underhandedness for decades, target a president who stands incongruently with the progressive march of this country, the press and left-wing punditocracy exonerate them of past misdeeds, because they are alleged to be “subject to the rule of law and [are] democratically accountable.”
Compare The Atlantic’s newfangled fondness for intelligence agencies in, “What Happens When Intelligence Agencies Lose Faith in the President?” to their 2014 article, “How the FBI Tried to Block Martin Luther King’s Commencement Speech.”
The best example of this turnabout might be a July 2016 Atlantic article, “Since its inception, the [CIA] has wooed filmmakers, producers, and actors in order to present a rosy portrait of its operations to the American public.” You don’t say? “The [CIA] has established a very active spin machine in the heart of the entertainment capital, which works strenuously to make sure the cloak-and-dagger world is presented in heroic terms.”
It is axiomatic that the mission of these national security agencies is categorically imperative, and it is true that they are more often than not staffed with patriots doing good work and who desire to keep this nation safe, but it also evident that the leadership of national security agencies is capable of acting on behalf of their own vested interests rather than on behalf of those of the American people whom they are entrusted to steward.
President Eisenhower presciently warned against the union of martial assets and incumbent elites—both embedded and aligned within the deep state—that might someday wield unwarranted influence, wherein “[t]he potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Eisenhower feared that this coalition would entrench itself to influence domestic policy and social order, expanding its reach and power under the facade of the national interest. “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry,” Eisenhower believed, could check the power and corruption of such a complex.
Put partisanship aside, when Americans prove incapable of policing their assets, they validate, reinforce, and expand the role of the deep state as the unqualified wardens of America. It is in the best interests of everyone to set straight the agencies we have entrusted to protect our communities.